Sri Lanka's tour of Pakistan in 2019 is under a cloud after information of a potential terror attack against the national team. (Image credit: Twitter)
The conundrum surrounding Sri Lanka's tour to Pakistan for three ODIs and three Twenty20 Internationals starting on September 27 has deepened. According to a statement released by the Board, it said it had received warnings its national team could be the target of a terror attack during an upcoming tour of Pakistan. The board said the Sri Lankan Prime Minister's Office had advised it to "reassess the situation" after it received "reliable information of a possible terrorist threat" against the national squad ahead of the six-match limited overs tour. It stopped short of calling off the tour, but said a reassessment of the security situation would be sought from Sri Lankan government authorities.
Following the announcement of the tour, 10 senior players, including Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews have already opted out of the upcoming tour citing security concerns. The statement from Sri Lanka Cricket came a short while after the board announced two squads for the three One-Day Internationals and the three T20 matches which will be held in Karachi.
The Sri Lanka team was the victim of a militant attack during a Test match in Pakistan's Lahore in March 2009. Six Sri Lankan players were injured when gunmen attacked their bus while six Pakistan policemen and two civilians were killed. Since the 2009 attack, a majority of international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country.
Following the move of the 10 senior Sri Lankan players not wanting to tour Pakistan, the country's Science and Technology Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry had accused India of coercing members of the Sri Lankan cricket team into dropping out of the Pakistan tour, sparking yet another controversy on social media.
According to Chaudhry, India had threatened to remove Sri Lanka’s players from the Indian Premier League (IPL) if they didn’t refuse to play in Pakistan. "Informed sports commentators told me that India threatened SL players that they will be ousted from IPL if they don't refuse Pak visit, this is really cheap tactic, jingoism from sports to space is something we must condemn, really cheap on the part of Indian sports authorities," Chaudhry had tweeted.
However, Sri Lanka's Sports Minister has dismissed reports that India had coerced the Sri Lankan players to not tour Pakistan for the upcoming three-match ODI and Twenty20 International series that will take place in Karachi in September. Harin Fernando, the country's Sports Minister took to his Twitter account to clarify, "No truth to reports that India influenced Sri Lankan players not to play in Pakistan.Some decided not to play purely based on 2009 incident. Respecting their decision we picked players who were willing to travel. We have a full strength team and we hope to beat Pakistan in Pakistan."